On Monday I was helping a friend do some electrical
work at an art gallery. It was midday and the sun was shining, wind
was blowing. Nice dry breeze and the forecast
was for wind
and a cool night. What perfect weather
for a cruise
over to St. Michael's! My friend has a Pearson
Vanguard (also a Rhodes boat) and it didn't take too much to convince him that playing hooky and going sailing was the right thing to do.
Once we decided to go, we almost dropped our tools in place and ran out the door. After some hasty prep, we met in Round Bay and sailed in tandem down to Annapolis
. We had a steady breeze of 10-12 knots from the NNE and delightful champagne sailing all the way - a broad reach to Bloody Point, then on the wind up the Eastern Bay, then off the wind all the way down the Miles River. We dropped our anchors at about midnight and went right to sleep, exhausted and a little sunburnt.
The next morning we hit the dock for fuel, and headed back home. The wind had shifted to the SSE and it was a slow, hot run up the Miles River. Collapsed sails
, wing on wing, that sort of thing. Moving at between 3-4 knots, whistling for wind and scratching my backstay.
We opened up the Eastern Bay about noon, and hardened up to beat up to Bloody Point. The conditions changed dramatically and instantly. Once we were exposed to the fetch of the bay proper, the wind blew at a steady 15 knots with frequent gusts to 20, and the seas had built up a steep close chop that was a thrill. TELEIA took off in a most satisfying manner, sailing unperturbed through the swell. But after the first two tacks, I was getting worn out from handling the loads. With the main sheeted in the weather helm
was heavy and constant and I was skating on the edge of being overpowered. I couldn't leave the helm
alone long enough to get that big jib
sheeted in properly, and without self tailing
winches it was a strenuous dance of shoving the tiller to windward, getting a few cranks on the winch
, and then while still tailing the winch
with one hand, pushing the tiller up with the other until I would stay down long enough to get a few more quarter turns on the winch. It took me almost the whole tack just to get sheeted in, and then it was hard alee again. Exhausting. Eventually I gave up and eased sheets
and ran off a bit, which helped some. But off the wind even a bit, the speed picked up and it did little to give me some rest. I eased the main to ease the weather helm, but even doing this while on the port tack was a gymnastic feat because the main sheet is made fast near the aft end of the cockpit
on the starboard side, and I was steering
from up from where I had good leverage on the tiller. It was a real handful. I was looking forward to getting up above Bloody Point, then cracking off and screaming down to Annapolis.
On port tack, bowling along like a freight train, leeward rail awash, I was nearing shoal water and getting set up to tack again when I looked aloft. My windward spreader - the one I had repaired with a dutchman, had collapsed like a crazy straw. It remained in collumn, but the wood that I had not replaced had simply disintegrated.
After a split second of dumb shock, I rounded up. I tried to roll in the madly flogging jib, but the furler
line had gotten fouled on a cleat and I had to scamper forward to clear it. In the time it took me to do that, the shaking rig liberated the remains of the spreader with enthusiasm.
I got the engine
started and the main down, and kept the bow upwind. The boat was pitching dramatically, and just staying on deck was a big priority, but I managed to get everything under control and began to motor
directly into the wind and waves. The mast
seemed secure with just one cap shroud
, the lowers keeping things steady. I let Mike on Sea Wolf know what had happened, and settled in for a long chug home. I was so looking forward to that downwind run to Annapolis!
I was able to make about 3.5 knots of headway to weather, and the motion of the boat was mostly pitching, but when I finally got around bloody point, I began to take the seas abeam or on the quarter, and the rolling started. Anybody who has ever been in a seaway without a scrap of sail to steady things will know how the motion felt, and now on the leeward roll, the top half of the mast
was bending and then snapping back into column with a dull thud on the opposite roll. It was sickening to watch, the leeward shroud
flopping loose like a noodle on every roll. I was sure the mast would snap at the spreaders, but I couldn't do anything but steer as best I could to avoid rolling. I couldn't leave the helm because I had a shoal directly under my lee and had to steer to get away from it - had to steer across the seas, which of course made the rolling much worse. I could reduce the motion to mostly pitching by running directly off downwind, but had to wait to do so until I cleared the shoal.
After a very very long time, I made it to open water and could afford to drift downwind. I left the tiller and spent a good long time on deck getting things squared away, the boat dancing around with wild abandon and I hanging on for dear life. I ran the main halyard
to the wounded chainplate and cranked it a tight as my muscles would make it so I had at least something supporting the top of the mast. Got the boom in the crutch. Started steering
between two anchored freighters.
The wind was stronger, the waves continuing to build, and I was seeing 6.5 knots of boatspeed when the motor
gave a weak sigh and died. Instantly on the radio
to let Mike know. At first I was pretty well alarmed, going through the scenarios in my head, but then I noted that I had steerage and was still going 4 knots, with no engine and no sails
up. Just the windage from the rig and hull, and the wind was blowing me directly to Annapolis. What fortune!
I got the topping lift
off the boom, ran it to the mainsail
, and hoisted it up to the height of the spreaders. The sail wouldn't set properly for want of a tack and clew, but it gave me more speed and control, and I could actually sail on a broad reach. Which is exactly what I did, straight past Annapolis, through the cloud of dinghy
racers, past the naval academy and up the Severn. I made it as far as the Rt. 50 bridge before the wind died away and I slowed to drifting with the tide.
Mike towed me up the Severn, into Forked Creek where I dropped the hook about 10 PM. Made dinner, ate, guzzled my tot of bathtub gin, and took a caulk.
Of course, the engine failure was a clogged fuel line from sediment that was shaken loose in the tank during all that rolling and pitching. The next morning I got to work changing the fuel filter
, and discovered that the clog was actually at the screen
in the tank on the end of the fuel pickup tube, not in the filter. I set a speed record
for chasing that down and clearing it. Took me all day. But finally I got the line primed, new filter in, and the engine running. I plucked my hook and motored the half mile or so to my dock, arriving just at dusk last night. It felt awfully good to secure my web of dock lines and be home safe with the boat mostly intact. Can't say all in one piece, because I littered pieces of my boat all over the Eastern Bay. But no major injuries, and I can build a new spreader.
So what failed? My ability to assess the strength of wood. The spreader failed all around the dutchman I put in. I didn't cut out enough compromised wood. I tried to keep as much of the spreader as I could to avoid time consuming shaping, which was a mistake. I should have replaced much more of the wood. Or rather, I should have recognized that the wood I was leaving in was not good enough (I ignored the ice pic test in places) and added way more new wood. Actually, I should have built a whole new spreader. Which is what I have to do now, with the added fun of getting to machine the bronze
fittings that I lost
when the spreader went by the boards.
The fuel tank
is still full of fuel and sediment. Some of the sediment is from age, some of it is the result of me cutting an inspection port into the tank to assess it's condition. Another mistake. I convinced myself the tank was pretty clean. Apparently it is not. So something has to be done there as well.
About the leaded glass - it is downright fragile. However it is merely cosmetic inasmuch as the regular port remains in place, functioning as the barrier to the elements. The leaded glass isn't exposed to the outside world. Someday it may shake apart, or someone may touch it and it will crumble. But for now it looks a heck of a lot better than nothing. I'm still not sure I love the design of the window treatment, but it's basically a wood and glass curtain.
I spend a good deal of time wandering around my deck and looking at hardware
and thinking "What the hell was that for?" This is an old boat, and there is a ton of stuff aboard that I have no clue how to use. I know the boat was sailed and raced a lot, and now I am looking at it all with wonder. I would be overjoyed if someone who knows the boat could tell me, for instance, why I have two mainsail
tracks - one for slides, one for a boltrope. All the way to the masthead. Why? What are all the halyards for? There is no spin halyard
, but there appear to be two staysail halyards. But no inner forestay, baby stay, etc and no attachment points on the deck for that stuff.
To that end, anyone who would enjoy sailing TELEIA is welcome to come sailing. I'd love to get in tough with the prior owner too, since I have benefited a great deal from past prior owners information about other boats I have owned. Who better to point out all the little things one needs to know to operate the boat and systems safely and effectively.
One last note: my heart was filled with pride for TELEIA, viewing her on the hook from Mike's boat. She's a beauty, even with faded topsides and a ragged deck. I love this boat, and and so happy I get to look after her for a while. I'll do my best to get her ready for a long life with the owner who comes after me, which hopefully won't be any time too soon!